Artist Spotlight: Paulina Cameron
San Diego based singer-songwriter, Paulina Cameron, has been working on her craft for years and that hard work shines through when you listen to her music. Her unique voice and smooth production helps her songs stick in your head, while telling a story through her lyrics. There’s no doubt that these traits have led to Paulina being one of the top requested artists at Songfinch.
We had a chance to learn more about Paulina’s past experience, what she’s working on and some influences that have helped shape her sound.
Good afternoon, it’s great to be chatting with you. Take a moment to tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into music.
Hello! Likewise, thank you so much for featuring me this month!
I’ve been singing since I was a baby, and since I can remember music felt like a stable and safe escape from whatever was going on in my life. Music helped me find emotional distance from the things I was experiencing and the tools to understand them in a clearer and simpler light.
I’ve always felt like when I’m singing, I can do just about anything, and I think that feeling of pure joy is really what kept me going towards music as a vocation. I started writing songs as an extension of that learning process. Playing with lyrics and melody is my favorite game: it entertains me when I’m bored, keeps me company when I’m lonely, and adds a pep to my step. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else but living and breathing music, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to get an education in music and pursue it as a career.
You currently work with two groups, Paulina Cameron + The Cave and Batcave, what is the status of each group and what’s in the works?
Currently I’m in a bit of a transitional phase. Paulina Cameron + The Cave was a project with some of my closest classmates from USC. We played and recorded a set of my songs with a bit of a rock/blues flair. It was really an incredible experience getting to share ideas with such a talented group of musicians.
Now, since I’ve graduated from college and relocated, I’ve shifted my focus to a solo project. I’d recorded a couple projects at studios with super talented musicians, producers, and engineers, but felt like when I came out on the other side, I wasn’t entirely sure that I’d gotten what I wanted for those songs. I realized at some point that I needed to figure out what it was exactly that I wanted to hear. I’d spent so many years learning about song structure and lyrics and melody, but I couldn’t tell you the first thing about how I wanted the song to SOUND. That’s the long-winded way of saying — tldr; I got into producing.
I’ve spent the last year and a half hanging out in Ableton, a music production tool, just practicing and learning everything I can about production. Learning how to produce music is like learning a brand new instrument, and I feel that the more I learn, the closer I can get to translating the music I hear in my head into what’s playing through the speakers.
I see that you’re also making music under the name holidae. I listened to “Absolution” on your SoundCloud and really dig it. Talk a bit about that project and what you have in the works.
Thank you so much, I’m glad you liked that one!
That project was one of the results of my producing education: I wanted to be able to make songs completely on my own, from start to finish. At some point I decided to just put something out to see what would happen. I only released it on SoundCloud and played it locally at a few shows.
I’m putting together an EP that’ll be out later this year, though it will likely be under a different name, and there’s more on the way!
While browsing through your songs a few months back, I came across “Chicago” and since I’m based in Chicago, I turned it on right away. I really like the song and would love to know more about the story behind the song.
Thank you so much! I actually always think about how funny it is that Songfinch is based in Chicago, since I didn’t start working with you guys until after I left!
I went to school in Chicago for my first year of college and had a lot of new experiences. When I first wrote that song it was really about a boy. I wrote it after I moved to LA, but I felt this ongoing heartache kind of kept pulling me back to Chicago. I was happy in LA, but this guy would pop in and out of my life, and every time I’d hear from him I’d start to feel like I wanted to go back. I knew there wasn’t anything there for me to go back to, so I wrote this song about trying to let go of a story, or really of a daydream.
It was the kind of song I felt I’d been writing for years, and it just came out fully formed and ready to go – it played for me what I needed to hear. It was pretty wild.
How would you explain your music in three words?
Honest, Hopeful, Reflective
Which artists over your career so far have had the most influence on you as an artist and your sound overall?
Oh man, wow. That’s always such a tough question to answer.
The Beatles were my first musical love. I learned so much about melody and structure just by absorbing their songs from my earliest childhood. I still go back to their records now and find new things to obsess over and appreciate.
Bill Withers introduced me to groove. Stevie Wonder showed me how to jam on the keys and have a good time.
Hiatus Kaiyote first made me pay attention to production, which has spiraled into a whole lifestyle.
Kimbra ROCKS harmonies. I love stacking vocals and messing with harmonies. I could literally do it all day and have the best time. She has some really cool ways of using vocals that are definitely worth a listen.
Who are your top 3 favorite musicians right now?
Tom Misch, Mac Ayres & Moses Sumney
Forty years from now, when you look back, what will make you say, “I accomplished what I set out to accomplish.” In other words, what is success to you within your music?
The dream is a career writing, recording and performing music. If I can do that for the rest of my life, I’ll have lived a good life. The question of the scale of that is secondary. I mean, I’d love to sell out arenas, but I also love the feel of a coffeeshop gig, and I know that my real pursuit is just that feeling of joy I get from being wrapped in music all day every day. One step at a time.
Anything else that you’d want to let the readers know?
I would love to make a song for a loved one for their special day! Music is all about storytelling, and it’s such a joy for me to get to tell your stories and to give you a special and unique experience you can share with the people you love 🙂